Why paper invoices do not have to be kept in Switzerland

There is no legal obligation for companies in Switzerland to keep invoices (or other receipts) in physical (paper) form (unless they operate in specifically regulated industries):

  • Since 2002, electronic commerce and electronic data storage have been promoted across the board in Switzerland and made possible in almost all legal areas, and this also applies to invoice processing.
  • The central principles can be found in the Commercial Code (OR). The implementing provisions and the catalog of requirements are contained in the Business Records Ordinance (GeBüV).
  • Scanning invoices and keeping and storing them in electronic form is permitted in Switzerland, provided that the principles of regularity are observed. The same applies to the processing of electronic invoices, although additional requirements for the preservation of evidence apply here.
  • Swiss law does NOT distinguish between keeping and storage when it comes to regularity. The entire data life cycle must be controlled. However, there are additional requirements for storage (archiving).
  • Thus, the GeBüV is directly applicable for the assessment of the correctness and the evidential value of scanned invoices also according to the VAT regulations. Scanned invoices (as well as all other receipts) meet the legal requirements in particular if the regularity requirements according to GeBüV are fulfilled.
  • Storing electronic invoices in an ERP system or in a database without additional protection in an archive is fundamentally impermissible and not in compliance with the law.
  • The documentation (procedure) is the key for the user/operator to prove compliance with the law.
  • The requirements and practice regarding the GeBüV thus also apply to the presentation of evidence in civil proceedings.
  • The KRM verifies the compliance of invoice processing with the law and issues certificates for providers as well as users of such products and systems.

If you would like to know the legal basis in detail, then order our practical guide or contact us directly. You can find our testing/certification services here.

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